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Radio Free Asia

COVID-19 infections on the rise again as Myanmar's medical system struggles

A lack of doctors, medicine and oxygen mean the death toll could also rise.

By RFA Burmese 2022.09.12 -- COVID-19 cases are rising again in Myanmar as the country faces an acute lack of medical workers and medicine and aid groups warn of rising complacency against the deadly virus.

The State Administration Council's (SAC) Ministry of Health reported 189 daily infections on Sunday.

A total of 9,378 laboratory samples were tested, the ministry said, with 2.01% of them testing positive for COVID-19, the highest rate of daily infections this month.

Of the 189 people testing positive, 173 people were infected locally, while the remaining 16 were infected in other countries, according to the SAC Ministry of Health's statement.

Myanmar's healthcare system has been struggling since the coup on Feb. 1, 2021. Most doctors have joined the anti-junta Civil Disobedience Movement and no longer work in government hospitals. There is also an acute shortage of medicine and oxygen, with prices doubling since the coup.

A housewife in Yangon told RFA she was worried the COVID resurgence would result in a similar death toll to the last wave and said she thought people had become complacent.

"Although people have been vaccinated, they are infected. Many people have died from the Coronavirus, so we have to learn a lesson from what happened in the third wave and stay safe," she said.

"People forget to wear masks and even when they wear one, it's just on their chin. We have to remind each other to wear masks."

Yangon social aid groups, which often volunteer to assist people with serious health issues, also urged people to follow the rules and regulations related to COVID-19.

Since the start of the COVID outbreak in Myanmar in late 2019 some 616,663 people have been infected and 19,442 people have died, according to the Ministry of Health.

The highest daily rate of infections was 6,093 on July 21, 2021, according to Reuters, which stopped updating its data in July this year.

Only 64.5 million Coronavirus vaccine doses have been administered in the country which has a population of around 55.2 million, according to the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

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